Indie Book Contests

In an effort to identify similar authors to me (“comps”), I spent some time looking up winners and finalists of indie book contests, self-published authors being a bit hard to track down (I didn’t think of this route; it was my writer friend Laura McHale Holland‘s idea). First I looked at winners and finalists of Next Generation Indie Book Awards, then Indie Excellence Awards, in the fantasy and sci fi categories, and found mostly male authors and no books that really reached out to me. Some were the same winners in both contests. Then I searched Foreword Indies Awards 2020 finalists and what a difference; there I encountered diverse authors with descriptions that touched me with their uniqueness and vibrancy. I haven’t read them but want to share what drew me.


Jamie Thomas’s Asperfell contains imprisoned mages, a girl trying to escape the fae prison, and a guy who doesn’t want to be saved. Thomas writes, “Asperfell is a must-read for fans of Jane Austen who always wished she’d dabbled in blood magic.” I don’t know what that looks like but I’m curious.

André SkoroBogáty, an Australian author, explores antediluvian times (such as how the serpents came to be in Eden). “Enok stands wrongly sentenced for murder. His only hope is to escape with the castaways, a ruthless amazon, the only human he has ever really known, and her mysterious companions, a towering youth of impossible strength, and a shifty crippled serpent.” Curious?

I was excited by Valerie Dunsmore’s Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. This book is based in Canada, in “mystical forests.” Dunsmore ends her description, “With magic in Lily’s bones, and ancestral trauma in the long line of women before her, Lily teeters on the edge of chaos […] She must learn […] the cost of hatred, the nature of healing, and the delicate balance between saving her loved ones and saving herself.” This is lovely phrasing and has haunting echoes of a family saga that’s been tapping my shoulder to be written for a decade or so.

Caitlin Chung portrays, in Ship of Fates, San Francisco of Goldrush time from the point of view of Chinese immigrants. I want to read this. A. Ali Hasan Ali, of the United Arab Emirates, reaches back to pre-Moslem folktales for his tale (with a long title) The Guardians of Erum and the Calamitous Child of Socotra. 

Nina Munteanu, another Canadian author, writes eco-fiction. A Diary in the Age of Water is post-apocalyptic. I definitely want to follow her and other climate change conscious authors. Munteanu “explores humanity’s tense co-evolution with technology and Nature.” http://www.ninamunteanu.com

Kathleen McFall, of Washington DC, gets political with her Gates of Mars, “blending science-fiction with elements of classic hard-boiled detective stories.” I like that she’s tackling the economic scene in the U.S., with a critical view of Mars colonization. http://www.pumpjackpress.com

This is an exciting mix of authors and stories. Which ones do you want to read?

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